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Columbia Journal logoVolume Nine, Number Three    May 2004    www.columbiajournal.ca


    Avian Flu an Industry Flaw

    I noticed that your article on the agricultural union asking for compensation for workers and farmers hurt by the Avian Flu (Columbia Journal April) said that so far the disease has not affected free-range chickens.

    Could this because these birds are allowed to grow and live in a more natural environment than being cramped into tiny cages, forced to stand in their own excrement, all together in a building?

    Could this be because these chickens are fed actual grains and lettuce, instead of complex hormones designed to artificially enhance the tenderness of their flesh or increase their output of eggs?

    It seems the industry needs to give it’s head a good shake and re-think how it does things before even more birds, and eventually people, are killed.

    TJ Green
    Maple Ridge

    It wasn’t happening to them

    Long ago I came to the realization that homo sapiens seems to be genetically
    hardwired as primates to react intelligently only to immediate crisis. 
    Somehow, prevention comes from an evolutionary later part of the brain and
    is therefore not the first line of defence.  Just look at monkeys when one
    of the clan is caught by a predator.  They run about fifty feet and then
    stop and turn to watch the disaster.  After all, it wasn’t happening to them

    I have been reading a lot of economics lately, “The Commanding Heights” and
    ”Jihad vs. McWorld”, both fascinating play-by-play descriptions of the
    battle that is waging between two teams, the “Globalists” v the
    ”Parochialists”.  The Globalists are cyber-driven, MBA fuelled behemoths
    trying to conquer an human sized, comprehensive social order in which most
    can at least survive, if not prosper.

    What the Globalists fail to realize is that the planet is economically a
    closed system, a financial ecosystem, and that “value” however it is
    expressed, does have a theoretical ceiling beyond which cannot pass.  No
    longer can we look to new “frontiers”.  What happens is that, value, like
    energy, transforms itself into different forms in different locations.
    We are seeing one transformation now in the United States.  The US reached
    its full economic potential in about 1960, and, despite political bullshit
    and spin doctoring, it has declined ever since.  Having a Honda factory in
    the USA and the fact that the Toyota Camry was designed and built totally in
    America (plus parts from Mexico) does not change the fact that theyare
    subsidiaries of  Japanese corporations.  Meanwhile, GM is so desperate that
    it gives away its product using its own money by offering forty-eight month
    loans for zero percent.

    A very wise Professor at UBC once said, “Advertising is society’s way of
    conversing with itself’”.  As a result, rather than switching ads off. I
    watch them intently.  There are the ubiquitous “feel good, smell good, be
    sexy” staples of the advertising business, plus those promising a home with
    the sterility of an operating theatre.

    But there are some significant shifts occurring right now.  First, the home
    care and food ads frequently depict a “downsized”, unemployed husband
    keeping Home Sterile.  Another surge is in the area of “cheap food”.  There
    are too many examples to mention, everything from McDonalds to Hamburger
    Helper.  And again, frequently it is the unemployed former professional who
    prepares the food.

    The most frightening of all is the dramatic rise in the mass advertising of
    anti-depressants.  What were once tucked between the pages of professional
    journals of medicine now appear on our television screens.  Of course, there
    is still stigma attached to the word “depressed” so the spin doctors have
    renamed it “Social Affliction Disorder.  Which then makes socially
    acceptable.  We can cope socially with disorders, it is endemic mental
    disease that scares the hell out of us.  So what we see is a society in
    which many of its best and brightest are shoved out of the economic loop,
    can afford only cheap food, and are on anti-depressants as a result.
    And we all are casualties, “collateral damage”, of this war.  But hasn’t
    happened the politicians yet, and so they watch, just like monkeys.

    Bob Beech
    "Communist" Countries Just as Capitalist

    Reading the article Your Money Your World (Columbia Journal March edition) got me thinking about how there’s hardly a greater oxymoron than the label “Communist China.”

    Why not be honest and call a spade, a spade? The only thing Communist about China is its government’s physically brutal rule over its populace and that of Tibet; everything else about China’s government is staunchly capitalist and based on human greed.
    Really, let’s cut the crap.

    Frank G. Sterle, Jr.
    White Rock

    Are we Really this Unprepared?

    I have lived in the lower mainland all my life, and maybe it’s just my bias, but it seems in the last few years, too many things have happened that have turned into disasters because the authorities have been too slow to respond or responded improperly.

    First we had massive flooding problems about four years ago. Then we had Mad Cow disease. Then the West Nile Virus. Then the major forest fires in the Okanagan. Then home invasions. Then the allegation of police brutality against poor residents and concertgoers. Now we have the Avian Flu.

    There have always been major incidents and tragedies. But it seems like only a few short years ago, things were much more under control: forest fires got put out sooner; disease was contained better, and the police seemed better at fighting crime instead of hurting people.

    Could this all be because of government cutbacks, poor industrial practices, lack of accountability of both, or just a decline in individual or social morality and concern for each other’s well-being? I have no scientific evidence to back up these observations. But it is my impression. I hope I’m wrong.

    Ben Jameson

    Deals with the Devil Don’t Work

    How do you spell sell-out? So BC didn’t walk out to knock out this government because our elected union leaders struck deal and called it a victory.

    So, in return for a huge wage cut, hospital workers are protected from any more contracting out and privatization. Sounds like a deal, doesn’t it. After all, the government agreed to it, right? Well, the Devil apparently makes deals too.

    Given the fact that the Liberals haven’t kept a promise since they were elected, what makes everyone so sure they will keep this one? This agreement comes from people who said they wouldn’t rip up collective agreements, privatize health care, sell off BC Hydro or BC Rail and on and on—and then went ahead and did just that.

    They have no mandate to govern this province and no deal made with them can be trusted.

    Now to the next election, when the pro-Liberal media and big business come on side to  lie about and outspend the NDP and compromise its lead in the polls by trying to buy the election the way they bought the last one.

    Never mind sell-out. How do you spell stupid?

    G. Conti
    New Westminster

    General Strike not a Solution

    As someone who just had their surgery reschedule due to the illegal HEU walkout, I can sure say I didn’t like the way they handled the crisis. It was panicked and hotheaded.

    For certain I do not support privatized health care, nor do I support the way the government is treating health care workers. In spite of their strike, I do appreciate the hard work they do keeping our hospitals running.

    But simply reacting to a tough and bull-headed, and, frankly, incompetent government by getting angry and walking off the job leaving thousands of patients in the lurch isn’t the way to act.

    Maybe in other countries, people have to resort to these measures to fight the government or the employers. But in Canada, we have the rule of law, and there are other ways of dealing with the problems, like the courts, arbitration and changing the government in elections.

    M. Smith

    HEU Did OK., Considering….

    Right now I hear a lot of anger from both health care workers, other union members and many of their supporters in the public that they got a raw deal from the government by not going out on a full general strike against the Liberal government.

    But I wonder why. The deal between the HEU and the government, brokered by the BC Federation of Labour, actually forced the government to literally scrap the biggest part of its Bill 37: the unlimited contracting out of HEU jobs and privatizing the health system.

    The trade-off was a 15 per cent wage cut. Granted, that’s a hard fiscal blow to people who earn a modest income to begin with. But at least they got to keep their jobs, and the government had to give up what was clearly the biggest part of its agenda for health care.

    All in all, I think these folks should consider themselves lucky.

    Teresa Crouse

    Martin’s the crook, not Robinson

    Your web site article about the leaders of the major political parties, especially Paul Martin, wishing Burnaby MP Svend Robinson well but still leaving a question about his innocence leaves a lot to be desired.

    Robinson, in a fit of mental break-down, took a piece of jewelry in plain view almost expecting to get caught, and then turned himself in to the police, apologized to the company and stepped down pending an investigation.

    Martin lied his way into office promisng to restore health care and education funding, scrapping NAFTA and the GST and balancing the budget by growing the economy through job creation. Instead he gutted federal contributions to both, signed NAFTA, kept the GST and handed out corporate tax breaks while unemployment soared.

    Now his government is under investigation for all kinds of scandals. Yet he clings to power and wants us all to re-elect him as prime minister. Now, I ask who should we be more concerned about?

    R. Raddleson

    Clocks to Measure Political Lies

    A BC man died and went to heaven.  As he stood in front of St.
    Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind
    him. He asked, "What are all those clocks?"

    St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks.  Everyone on Earth has
    a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie, the hands on your clock will

    "Oh," said the man, "whose clock is that?"

    "That's Mother Teresa's. The hands have never moved, indicating
    that she never told a lie."

    "Incredible," said the man. "And whose clock is that one?"

    St. Peter responded, "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have moved twice, telling us that Abe told only two lies in his entire life."

    "Where's Gordon Campbell's clock", asked the man.

    "The Premier's clock is in God's office. He's using it as a
    ceiling fan."

    Karin Hass

    Fascism within Freedom’s Name?

    After seeing the Dalai Lama’s impressive lecture in Vancouver (Columbia Journal April), I began to wonder about how easy it is for people to turn to totalitarianism and fascism.

    Tibet is currently under military occupation by the China, and that’s an atrocity. Yet while the Dalai Lama’s message of fighting such evil with promoting compassion and peace is a very good one, many of his followers see him literally as a living god, waiting for him to seize power in Tibet and rule it at his own discretion (even though he has said he doesn’t want this for himself).

    How much less totalitarian is that than being occupied by an invading army? Some of these people were present at his event and were advocating in the name of a “free Tibet.” It’s truly frightening that some people can fight oppression in one case and blindly accept it in another.

    Terry Edward

    Graham Still Awaits Ruling

    Glad to see an independent voice in the John Graham case. Good piece I shall be saving. One slight adjustment, though. Graham has not beaten the attempt to discontinue bail. Madame Justice Levine has reserved decision on it so it's in limbo.

     Jeremy Hainsworth

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